Building on a proud 100-year British aviation heritage, Airbus is part of the very fabric of the UK – which is one of the company’s four home markets, alongside France, Germany and Spain. Its 12,500-strong UK workforce is part of a global family of 130,000 employees around the world.
Each of the divisions – Airbus, Airbus Helicopters and Airbus Defence and Space – leads their respective market, relying on diverse skills, advanced technologies and facilities that can only be found in Britain, across more than 25 sites stretching the length and breadth of the country from Aberdeen to Portsmouth.
Britain, with its global influence within the aerospace, defence, space and security sectors, remains an important part of Airbus. And Airbus remains an important part of the UK – with local revenues of £6 billion.
Today, Airbus is the largest commercial aerospace company in the UK, as well as its biggest civil aerospace exporter. The majority of the wings on Airbus commercial aircraft are designed and built there.
As Britain’s civil helicopter hub, Airbus represents around 50% of the UK’s civil helicopter fleet and is a key supplier to the Ministry of Defence.
Over the last ten years, Airbus has trained more than 1,100 apprentices and has collaborations with more than 20 universities, spending £350 million in UK Research & Development.
Airbus’ worldwide activity supports a £7 billion gross value-added contribution to UK GDP. Each year Airbus spends in excess of £5 billion with UK suppliers, supporting a supply chain comprising more than 2,500 companies, ranging from large primes like Rolls-Royce and GKN to hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each supplier plays a vital role in helping Airbus deliver its world-leading products.
The sites at Filton and Broughton design, test and manufacture the wings for all Airbus’ commercial aircraft with the exception of the A220, directly sustaining about 9,000 UK jobs.
Broughton, home to a workforce of some 6,000 Airbus highly skilled personnel, has a proud tradition of aerospace manufacturing dating back 80 years, having produced such aviation classics such as the Wellington and Lancaster, and De Havilland’s Mosquito and Comet. The site focuses primarily on manufacturing but also houses engineering and support functions such as procurement and finance. Airbus has invested more than £2 billion in the Broughton plant over the past 10 years. Core activities at Filton, where an additional 3,000 people work, are the design, engineering and support for Airbus wings, fuel systems and landing gear. Teams also work on aerodynamics research, development and test facilities, while wings for the A400M transporter are assembled on site.
Present in the UK for more than 40 years, Airbus’ helicopter activity is headquartered at Oxford Airport – Britain’s civil helicopter hub – from where the company provides the country’s premium rotary wing aircraft solutions. With sites in Aberdeen, Belfast, and Oxford, Airbus provides helicopter design, manufacturing, support, maintenance and training to its customers. Airbus rotary wing aircraft make up the entirety of the country’s police helicopter fleet, 65% of the air ambulance fleet, and half of the country’s overall civil helicopter fleet.
Airbus is also an important helicopter supplier to the UK armed forces, with 100 of its rotorcraft in service with the Ministry of Defence. These include dedicated helicopters for operations across the globe – including the Puma 2, the workhorse of the RAF, and recently subject to one of the most successful defence upgrade programmes in the UK.
Airbus Helicopters also provides aircraft for the UK Ministry of Defence Military Flying Training System, meaning that for more than half a century, every helicopter pilot in the country has been trained on Airbus Helicopters platforms.
As the biggest supplier of large aircraft to the Royal Air Force, Airbus is responsible for the delivery (through the AirTanker partnership) of the service’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, designated the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport. A total of 14 A330 MRTTs provide the Royal Air Force with 21st-century tanker and transport capability.
At Airbus’ Filton site, in addition to its work on commercial aircraft, the facility also is responsible for wing assembly and equipping the Airbus A400M multi-role airlifter. One of the A400M’s major operators is the Royal Air Force, which received its initial aircraft in 2014. The RAF now has 20 A400Ms delivered, out of a total of 22 ordered.
At its site in Newport, south Wales, Airbus specialises in secure connectivity, cyber solutions and the security of critical infrastructure in the UK, serving as key partners in government and NATO-led information infrastructure programmes. One notable product, a powerful encryption device developed by Airbus named Ectocryp, has been dubbed “Enigma for the 21st century.”
The Farnborough site is home to Zephyr the world’s leading solar-electric, stratospheric UAS. Designed and developed in the UK, Zephyr is a world-record breaking unmanned aerial system that constantly pushes the boundaries of flight. Providing see, sense and connect capabilities to revolutionise defence, humanitarian and environmental missions all over the world.
As the largest space company in Europe and the UK’s major sovereign space company, Airbus designs and manufactures advanced satellites and systems for telecommunications, Earth observation, navigation and science programmes. Moreover, a significant percentage of TV programming for the county is broadcast by Airbus-built satellites. The space sector contributes £13.7 billion to the UK economy annually.
Key efforts include leading the Solar Orbiter programme, the £250 million European Space Agency (ESA) mission to study the Sun; the scientific mission LISA Pathfinder which successfully tested the concept of gravitational wave detection in space; and the Sentinel 5P, Aeolus, and Biomass Earth observation satellites.
Also of note is the ESA ExoMars rover mission, Europe’s first rover to another planet. Due for launch in 2020, it will search for life on the Red Planet.
Airbus operates the UK’s military satellite communications fleet providing all beyond line of sight services to the country’s armed forces, including mobile voice, video, internet and broadcast. Delivered through the Skynet 5 constellation, these services also meet the needs of other military and government users, including NATO. Airbus Defence and Space has nearly 4,000 people in the UK, mainly based in Stevenage, Portsmouth and Newport.
Find here more information, for the Airbus Space activity in United Kingdom
Airbus’ impact reaches all parts of the UK. It operates facilities in nine of the UK’s regions, and makes purchases from more than 2,500 businesses throughout the country. The company is an active participant in numerous regional trade associations encouraging dialogue and partnerships with the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) community.
Innovation is part of the company's DNA; Airbus spends £350 million a year in research and technology in the UK and has long-term collaboration agreements with more than 20 universities across the country. The result: breakthrough innovations that positively impact the world, igniting excitement and passion for aerospace and defence.
Airbus is an active supporter of numerous skills and diversity efforts, including the government-led Your Life and WISE campaigns, initiatives by the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as being a signatory to and supporting organisation of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter which launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2018.
Airbus is a proud member of the 5% Club, a campaign focused on recruiting apprentices and graduates into the UK workforce. By joining the club, Airbus has committed to the aim of ensuring that 5% of the company workforce in the UK are apprentices, graduates or sponsored students on structured programmes within the next five years. More information is available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Airbus Space STEM Discovery Centre in Stevenage was launched in 2017 by British ESA astronaut Tim Peake. It features a range of interactive exhibits including the Mars Yard and will inspire the next generation for UK space.
The future of the UK
Airbus is proud to work closely with the UK government as part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), the strategic partnership which has been established to secure the future of the UK aerospace industry for the next 20 years and beyond.
The Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) is a strategic partnership between government and industry which has been established to secure the future of the UK Aerospace industry for the next 20 years and beyond. The AGP was established in 2010 as a vehicle to tackle barriers to growth, boost exports and grow the number of high value jobs in the UK.
The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) promotes transformative technology in air transport and funds world-class research and development through a £3.9 billion joint government-industry programme. It provides a roadmap of the innovation necessary to keep the UK competitive in the global aerospace market and complements the broader strategy for the sector created by the AGP.
Despite Brexit, Airbus remains an important part of the UK and the UK remains an important part of Airbus.